The team behind Pacific Beach pizzeria Ambrogio15, who recently opened Pearl Street aperitivo bar Ciao Ciao Piadina, will launch their second restaurant in La Jolla this Saturday, May 22 when Semola opens on Fay Avenue in the former Prepkitchen space. Though it was originally meant to be a stand-alone spot for their quick-service pasta concept that relocated from the Little Italy Food Hall, co-founder Giacomo Pizzigoni says they decided to explore a different direction to capitalize on the skills and creativity of the chefs currently in the group’s orbit.
In 2019, Ambrogio15 entered a partnership with chef Silvio Salmoiraghi of Italy’s Michelin-starred Ristorante Acquerello, who consulted on a new pizza menu that will soon be unveiled at the group’s upcoming restaurant inside the Sky Deck project at Del Mar Highlands Town Center. Salmoiraghi’s contributions to Semola include several pasta dishes, with the overall menu created and overseen by head chef Daniela Martinez (Dandy/Arama, Bracero, Ironside Fish and Oyster). Martinez also has an affinity for the pastry side, becoming a grand champion of Food Network’s “Chopped” in 2019 after competing in the show’s sweets showdown.
Pizzigoni says the aim of the restaurant is to produce fine gastronomy in a casual setup, and hopes that diners will approach their take on contemporary Italian cuisine that uses primarily local ingredients with an open mind. With untraditional preparations of classic dishes and influences lent by other cuisines, from Argentine to Asian, the menu also includes liberal applications of modern cookery, from a dome of wood smoke that reveals an herby risotto to lemon pepper “caviar” spheres that top wagyu carpaccio.
All of Semola’s seating will be located outside, although later this fall the La Jolla restaurant will debut an indoor chef’s table that’ll offer nightly wine pairing dinners.
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